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The Amateur Birder's Journal - Stories & Photographs by J R Compton
All Contents © 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. DO NOT USE images without permission & payment.
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June 30 2006

Starting at the Boat House Bridge, we walked the extension of the railroad right of way I explored the other day, down a long, I think they said the neighborhood spent two million dollars on this sidewalk through trees, bare glimpses of the lake, creeks, darkness and light beyond, but no real view but trees up and down slopes on both sides — and no breeze — till it empties near the old trestle over Lawther by the fish hatchery.

Invisible Wabbit - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Invisibuh Wabbit

Walking fast, eager to catch every possibility, I saw a cottontail on a dirt road that goes closer to the parrots home electric relay station where they gather, and a beaver dam just into the hatchery but no beaver. I know they're out there but I've never seen one. I've seen nutrea and a fox, possums and always liked believing in bigger cats.

Invisibility is a recurring theme. When the rabbit stopped on the far side of the road, under shade, it seemed caught up in that concept. I could see it easily, took a dozen boring pix of it, but it stayed there, frozen in time and partial shade till I was only a few hops away.

The herons, especially lately, seem caught in that same sensation, even if I can see them, they are, I suppose, to most people, invisible. A Little Blue Heron in the creek when I returned, almost was, except I saw him outside the splotchy greens and sky blues before he flew to the center, not more than thirty feet from the noisy, high traffic bike and foot bridge.

Little Blue Beak Wiggling Fish - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Little Blue Wiggle-beaking Fish

Even when I'd look up from my camera, briefly, to lax my eyes and stance, it'd take a few moments to reorient to a little blue, skinny pile of feathers plying its fishing trade in the green bright chiaroscuro creek right in front of my eyes, and nearly invisible.

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June 29

Hiding Herons - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Hiding Heron

Seems like time we walk lately, we find herons. Egrets, too, of course. They are — singly — all over the place and bright white hard to miss. But herons blend and tend toward timidity, although this critter could be the same we communed with yester near Sunset.

Today's walk was at and over Singing Bridge, where either the largest Little Blue or smallish Great Blue heron flew off when I reached for my camera coasting into the parking lot. We used to only see a pack of white ducks there.

Bridge Spider - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Bent Bridge Spider

We also discovered a 3-inch Garden Spider on the Bent Bridge just south of Thistledown Road, where she waited, face down along a beautiful zigzag motif web.

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June 28

Invisible Heron - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Invisible Yellow-crowned Night Heron

We got within twenty feet of a Yellow-crowned Heron with its face firmly in the weeds, like a head in the sand, pretending it was invisible, may have been invisible to folks with untuned heron radar.

Near Sunset Bay, where we also saw one solitary coot, a Little Blue heron and the usual spare egrets. Another, jauntier pic of this same bird should be on the White Rock Lake Journal soon, I've been updating this so often I've neglected that.

Little Blue Heron and Egret - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Little Blue on the left
with bigger Egret far

Both these birds stayed well out of our reach, leap frogging the shore line and showing off that fine Ardeidae flying form.

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June 27

Up early. Very early. So early it was cold. Not just cool. Once there, I set out to explore the mysterious area across the creek where I've been photographing herons for the last several weeks.

Turns out, it's an old railroad right of way, dense and wide but not deep. Only maybe thirty yards, if that. A steep climb up to the rocky bed, a few stray, rotting ties and overgrown with trees. Once I got into it, I didn't find a path got seriously brambleated, flesh ripped and bleeding. I'd wondered if there might be secret heron nesting grounds there. But I don't think so.

New Viewpoint - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

new viewpoint
through the trees

It was nice to have a new vantage point of the area, though it was difficult to get my elderly Sony F707 to focus where I wanted it to. I brought it because it is light, and I expected to walk some distance. It was nice to have the little toy along. It still takes good pix, but compares unfavorably with the Nikon in so many ways.

It was, however, so very delicious to see, not optically, but the way the film sees the scene, manifesting the exposure I chose and could change for just the right nuance of color and contrast. Damn! I miss that in the digital Single Lens Reflex. On the Sony, if the exposure's wrong, I know it immediately and change it forthwith.

The only birds I encountered was an army of Grackle ladies who filled my ears with crackling while I was caught up in the brambles. They are the avian early warning system, and I must have been near some of their nests.

And a Black-crowned Night Heron in the creek, only about forty feet from the dam side of the boathouse bridge. My zoom would have been perfect for that, but all I had was the Sony toy, with its smallish 200mm zoom and measly 5 megapixels.

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June 26

Black-crowned Night Heron and Juvenile - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Mom or Dad and the
Bright-eyed Chick

A mid-morning walk netted my first sighting of an adult Black-crowned Night Heron with a juvenile. Maybe eight feet apart, which is cuddling for a heron.

One egret at the spillway, doing ruffles with its long plumage. Still. It's summer and hot and humid, even early in the ayem, although the TV weather guys promised cool — down in the lower 90s, they said with straight faces — today. Rain yesterday made me think the spillway stairs would be thick with birds this mornin'. But it wasn't.

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June 24

Pink Nosed Ducks copyright 2006 by Mary Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Pink-nosed Ducks and Seven Stripey Ducklings
Anna I.Deed them as Black Bellied Whistling Ducks
Photograph by Mary Compton

I did not walk at the lake today. I drove there after the rain. It was up to 97 degrees F —  balmy for here, before, then suddenly clouded over gray with vertical shafts of intense lighting and rain from Garland to Old East Dallas that I know of. TV insisted the rain was widely scattered, but Garland Road from one end to the other was inundated, and it is not a short street.

Sublime - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Sublimation - To transform directly
from the solid to the gaseous state

I shot steam rising from the broiled concrete after the showers, and watched it mist away. But I didn't photograph any birds.

My Mom did, though. Dad saw this vivid family in the irrigation canal that runs behind their house, alerted her and she got her digital camera, shot these amazing ducks, sent me a copy, and Anna identified them as Black-bellied Whistling Ducks.

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June 21

Closish Heron Fly-by - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Close Flyby by a Black-
crowned Night Heron

We saw three juvenile Black-crowned Night Herons (probably) on the creek up from the Boat House bridge. And four adults, all on the other side of the creek, of course, mostly out of reach of my 300mm lens, until this one flew by.

I pan every interesting bird that flies by. I may be getting better at that. Focus usually only begins to participate when the bird enters the trees and disappears. I have many photos of the backsides of herons, making this unique.

There's been as many as four Black-crowned Night Herons on the steps at the spillway in recent days. Plus one or two Great Egrets and a Snowy.

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June 20

Little Blue On the Steps

Today, walking away from the spillway and a quick walk, I saw a familiar silhouette atop the steps, turned and started photographing the first Little Blue Heron I've seen there. This is the best shot of the bunch, although there was a much more artsy silhouette, which is precisely how I first saw this bird. I have never seen more than one Little Blue at a time.

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June 18

Little Blue Heron Flyover - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Big Little Blue Reddish Egret Flyover

Lots of Black-crowns on the spillway and down on the steps this morning, probably due to the rain last night. Shot a familiar but too dark shape flying overhead, and after I processed it I realized it was an adult Little Blue.

There's been a lone Double-crested Cormorant swimming in the deep pools at the top of the spillway steps (under the walking bridge at the spillway) and below them. I counted, and it often stays underwater as long as 25 seconds, coming up some distance away. All while the egrets or herons just stand there waiting.

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June 16

Band of Bright - coppyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Bands of Bright

Haunting mist in the distance, gray solid cloud overhead with bright bands of strong sunlight speeding across the lake. Windy, too. Lots of birds earlier. Not many then.

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All text and photographs
copyright 2006 by J R Compton.
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